"21 June 2006: Wellington is not only the capital but also the most important centre of government and culture in New Zealand. In 1900 the City of Wellington held a competition for the design of the new Town Hall that was to be built on Cuba Street. The design by Joshua Charlesworth was selected as the winning entry for its strongly drawn and well-organised design in the classical Renaissance manner.
In June 1901, the Duke of Cornwall and York, the later King George V, laid the foundation stone. Construction began in May 1902. Architect Charlesworth, who was born in Yorkshire, set up his practice in Wellington in his early twenties, designing many important institutional buildings including the New Zealand Post Office Directory between 1885 and 1897. In 1887 he won two competitions, one for the design of the Nelson Town Hall as well as one for building the home for the “Aged and Needy” people of Wellington.
On 7 December 1904 the new Town Hall was officially opened by Wellington’s Mayor Aitken who used a gold and greenstone key for the opening. A programme of events to celebrate the occasion was held. The ceremonies included a choir of seven hundred children and a youth orchestra of 30 players. Wellington residents were very proud of their new Town Hall and felt it would make their city and their local government stronger.
Wellington Town Hall is a fine example of late Victorian municipal architecture, and is both currently and historically an important building for the city of Wellington. It is one of the few landmark civic buildings in New Zealand. The Town Hall was originally fronted by a Roman styled portico topped by a huge clock tower which was a donation to the city and the citizens by John Blundell in 1922, but the clock and its tower were removed in 1934 as a precaution after the 1931 heavy earthquake.
After another bad earthquake in 1942 the building was strengthened in 1943. The Town Hall was totally renovated and refurbished between 1991 and 1992 and was officially reopened in early 1992. Today, the Wellington Convention Centre uses Wellington Town Hall for a variety of events and receptions. The Town Hall’s main auditorium is well known for its outstanding acoustic qualities. Over the years it has housed thousands of concerts and events and is today among the top ten acoustics auditoriums in the world, ranking with the Carnegie Hall in New York City, the legendary Musikvereinssaal in Vienna and the Concertegebouw in Amsterdam."
The loveliest, sweetest flower that bloomed in paradise, and the first that died, has rarely blossomed since on mortal soil. It is so frail, so delicate, a thing, it is gone if it but look upon itself; and she who ventures to esteem it hers proves by that single thought she has it not. Humility - Fry